No canning pun here, either

matt lardie divvys up the jars

The jars clustered on a table at Fullsteam Brewery in Durham probably didn’t look like much to the usual beer-drinking, Sunday-afternoon loafers. But to the canning obsessed at the first Triangle Food Bloggers Canning Swap, they were precious jewels. For such a small group, the variety was amazing – bloody mary base, blackberry syrup, watermelon rind pickles, pickled okra, brandied oranges.

The creativity on sparkling display shows that canning has thrown off Grandma’s ratty apron and gone wild. But the reasons that people enjoy canning are the same: Working with local ingredients, creating great flavors that you can’t find in stores and saving a little money.

Here’s how it worked. Participants brought up to five jars of their goodies, and could receive one pick for each jar they brought. Names were drawn from a jar to determine order.

Some brought their first canning efforts. As veterans of more than a decade of pickling and jamming, my canning buddy, Linda, and I felt like the gray-haired (literally) sages. We shared our experience and, in return, received enthusiasm and creative ideas. So the “swap” was for more than tasty jars.

Thanks to Matt Lardie of  Green Eats Blog for organizing the swap.

Here’s a secret that I shared on Sunday: You can make almost any liquid into a jelly. Teas, bottled juices, they all can work. As does an infusion, which was the base for this jelly, my contribution to the swap.

Lovely Lemon Lavender Jelly

Be sure to use chemical-free culinary lavender, not the kind used in potpourris or sachets. I got mine from Bluebird Hill Farm, which sells at the North Hills farmers market.

Zest from 1 large lemon
1 teaspoon dried lavender buds
3 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 pouch liquid pectin

Place the lemon zest and lavender buds in a large bowl. Pour 2 1/4 cups boiling water over them, cover with a pan lid or aluminum foil and let steep for 1 hour. Strain and reserve the infused liquid.

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, combine the liquid with the sugar, vinegar and lemon juice. Bring the mixture to a bubbling boil over high heat, stirring constantly. When it is boiling and the sugar is dissolved, stir in the liquid pectin and return the mixture to a bubbling boil. Boil vigorously for 1 minute, or until the mixture passes the jell test.

Ladle the jelly into sterilized half-pint jars and screw on sterilized lids. Process in a boiling-water bath canner for 5 minutes.

Makes about 4 half-pint jars.

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4 Responses to “No canning pun here, either”

  • […] UPDATE – Here’s local cookbook author Debbie Moose’s take on the event: No Canning Pun Here, Either. […]

  • Great write-up! My only quibble: I’ll take a bit of umbrage to the description of “usual beer-drinking, Sunday-afternoon loafers.” Beer drinkers *are* canners, cookers, gardeners, and food preservationists. I suspect that’s why Matt decided to host the event at Fullsteam, knowing our venue is a hangout for many fellow Triangle-area local food enthusiasts…and that canning is a natuarl fit with our plow-to-pint mission.

    I know it’s just a phrase, but I think it’s important to dispel the notion that beer drinkers are usual, lazy, and loafing.

  • Comment from caitlinvb

    I have to say, as much as I have enjoyed your blog in the past, I too find the description of “beer-drinking, Sunday-afternoon loafers” and the assumption that those that like good beer are somehow an entirely different breed from those that are canning obsessed to be a wee bit offensive. I am canning obsessed. I work really hard trying to start a farmstead, I work full time on my feet in a kitchen, I put up as much as I can, I’ve been canning for years, and there’s nothing like a good cold beer at the end of a long day. I LOVE beer. I love GOOD beer. If I could take a Sunday afternoon off from my chores and work I WOULD spend it loafing.
    I am not in anyway affiliated with Fullsteam, but I have to agree that their mission and that of many canners are similar if not the same, and this seemed like it was the perfect place to celebrate the similarities between the groups!

  • Comment from Debbie Moose

    Well, I had no idea that being a beer-drinking, Sunday-afternoon loafer was considered an insult. I try to be one whenever possible. : )

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